1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
Cypress Hill’s 1991 debut album seems to reflect what was on the group’s mind when it was deciding the order of tracks. Generally, the band focuses on two key subjects: marijuana and police. Perhaps as a result of a recent interaction with the law enforcement they affectionately dub “pigs,” the first half of this album finds the group in a more violent mood, and much of their swine-slamming happens here.
The opener “Pigs” is a police-bashing buffet and “Hole in The Head” focuses on the cops as well, featuring lines like “I smell bacon” and interjections of “oink.” Perhaps two of the best songs on the album are aggressive, if not aimed at law enforcement. “How I Could Just Kill A Man” is a fun track discussing just that, and “Hand on The Pump” finds Cypress busy at its two favorite things: “sawed-off shotgun, hand on the pump, left hand on a forty, puffin’ on a blunt.”
The last part is why Cypress Hill is most often stereotyped as a “stoner rap” group. It’s tough to argue against the generalizing label because the group does spend a good deal of time saluting its favorite intoxication. Whereas the first half is dedicated to bringing out their inner gangsta, the second half of “Cypress Hill” is a tribute to pot. The titles tell the story: “Stoned is The Way of The Walk” and “Something for The Blunted” among others. The latter is one of several “instrumental” tracks that consist of the sounds of getting high along with lackadaisical jazz-hip-hop fusion, a perfect soundtrack if you will.
Regardless of what the group is rapping about, the funky beats of DJ Muggs make the mood. The frequent inclusion of brass, such as sax and trombone, adds to the jazzy influence of funk. Muggs’ signature sound is making his beats sound dirty; the static heard on tracks like “How I Could Just…” and “The Phuncky Feel One” sound as if the beats were produced on a gramophone. And when Muggs can’t make things funky by himself, he brings in a sample of “Aquaboogie” by Parliament on “Psycobetabuckdown.”
One other distinctive feature is primary emcee B-Real’s vocal style. His voice is unusually nasal for the rap world, as he admits on “The Funky Cypress Hill Shit.” The Cuban background of the group’s members rarely comes into play, but the rappers bounce back and forth between English and Spanish on “Latin Lingo,” and other emcee Sen Dog handles most of the vocals on the all-Spanish “Tres Equis.”
Cypress Hill is more popular now for tracks like “Insane in The Brain” and “(Rock) Superstar,” but its self-titled debut remains its best. It’s a feel-good album, in a bad boy way.
INTERESTING FACT: This is bit of a cop-out on my part, but I couldn't find anything more interesting. For those who have read my "bio" in the upper right may have noticed it reads "Just a kid from the streets getting paid for my vocals." This was directly quoted from the song "How I Could Just Kill A Man," before I knew that this album was among the 2000ish albums.
"How I Could Just Kill A Man" (A NOTE: Many believe this song to have been written by Rage Against The Machine. It was not. Rage's version is a Cypress Hill cover. It's an often confused fact that irritates me.)